If you listen to enough old wives tales, you’ll realize quick enough that the cocktails and drinks we consider as accompaniments to fun times also double as cures for a whole heap of ailments. With this in mind – and with me admitting right from the start that no doctors have vetted these “cures” – here are five imbibeable home remedies.
For a Cold
The Hot Toddy
Perhaps the most recognized cure-all, the basic hot toddy has for many years been prescribed by bartenders for folks with a cold or various cold symptoms. The toddy has may variations, but I think this basic version from Good Spirits does the trick: Using a small saucepan (or the microwave) heat 2-1/2 ounces water until almost boiling. Add 1-1/2 ounces brandy to an Old Fashioned glass (if it’s been pre-warmed and has thick walls) or a mug. Add 1/2 ounce simple syrup and stir once. Pour the hot water over the brandy syrup mixture. Stir once more. Garnish with a lemon twist if needed.
For a Fever
Hot Spiced Scotch
I know several good pharmacists, and they all swear by the beneficial powers of Scotch, especially if you’re feeling feverish. While straight Scotch is dandy, and something I certainly wouldn’t turn down, the addition here of allspice, cloves, and nutmeg – all healthy spices – ups the spirit's curative powers. This recipe’s from Dark Spirits: Add 1/2 ounce simple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves to a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well. Add 2 ounces Scotch to the shaker or glass. Swirl the contents together, and then strain into a goblet that’s been preheated with warm water. Heat 3-1/2 ounces water in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Pour the hot water into the goblet. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter and stir a couple times. Top with1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg and a lemon twist.
For an Overfull Stomach
The Stomach Reviver
A bursting tummy can strike at any time. And while a splash of bitters in soda, or straight Fernet-Branca, might be of aid here, I believe this classic doubling up of the two in a recipe from Dark Spirits is the more potent remedy: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounce brandy, 1 ounce Kümmel, 1/2 ounce Fernet Branca, and 2 dashes Peychaud bitters, and shake. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.
For a Touch of Sunstroke
The Mint Cooler
Try this cooler when you've overcompensated on sun exposure during a winterbird getaway or in summer. The recipe’s from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: Fill a highball glass three-quarters with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces Scotch and 1/2 ounce white crème de menthe. Stir briefly. Fill the glass with chilled club soda. Stir again.
For a Hangover
All right, calm down. I know many think a Bloody Mary is best for the day after a big revelry, but I believe the Mimosa does the trick in a less labor-intensive manner. The bubbles keep the stomach from turning to rock and the vitamin C provides a necessary energy infusion, without the harshness of tomato juice. This is the simple classic recipe, as reprinted in Champagne Cocktails: Pour 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice into a flute glass. Fill the glass with chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir briefly. Garnish with an orange slice.